Tuesday, February 03, 2015

The Loony Fringe

Paul Barford has really rung the gong for his left wing archaeocentric audience with this blog post:

"Wayne Rides out to Confront the Enemies of the Loony Fringe

In the past five years I have been blogging, I have come across some pretty wild "Idiot America" stuff from US coineys. The text that greeted me this morning certainly takes some beating for its Glennbeckianism (Wayne Sayles 'AIA and IS: birds of a feather?' Monday, February 02, 2015).
Al-Queda - ISIS - ISIL, whatever. The rampant Islamic State (IS) has much in common with the present leadership of Archaeology in America. Both are dedicated to the repression of knowledge and the perpetuation of radical ideology [...] what the AIA itself promotes and espouses has a familiar echo in the ideology of those Islamic Fundamentalists who relegate the past to a tool in their political arsenal.
Just for good measure: "... the AIA marching drum has often been likened to that of national socialists (not without some justification)...".

The only comment to that need be a reference to the very descriptive book of Charles P. Pierce (2010) about precisely the prevalence of this kind of mindset in part of US society, a nation within a nation and one in which the noisemaking of Wayne Sayles and his ACCG quite clearly belong ("Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free") - get it and in my opinion it sheds a good deal of light on the context of coineyism. Is there there nobody in non-idiot US coin collecting who is going to challenge there this anti-intellectualism and the series of imagined oppressions of the ACCG loony fringe? Or is it not a fringe in the US coin collecting community? What about among the members of the IAPN and PNG?"


The reader who isn't a Barford blog follower may not understand some of this jargon, so here are translations and explanations:

coiney: A coin collector (or "coin fondler.")
Literally meaning: someone who is attracted to ancient coins for their intrinsic and historical attributes, rather than their archaeological significance, and collects them to appreciate and study them. Mr. Barford uses this particular bit of jargon primarily to describe those who advocate and defend the rights of ancient coin collectors to pursue their avocation without being caught up in the "cultural property war" being waged by the American Institute for Archaeology and related organizations against the international antiquities trade.

coineyism: The perspective that collecting ancient coins and other minor artifacts is an inherently beneficial and laudable educational way to participate in understanding the past and mankind's cultural heritage. Mr. Barford and organizations such as the American Institute for Archaeology conversely view collecting such artifacts by non-archaeologists as a form of exploitation and self-centered greed, which must be strictly regulated and controlled since it "incentivizes looting" of archaeological sites and the illicit trade in "looted" and smuggled antiquities.

"Idiot America": A book by Charles P. Pierce [ http://www.amazon.com/Idiot-America-Stupidity-Became-Virtue/dp/0767926153 ]

noisemaking: Blog posts and other public statements that Mr. Barford does not agree with. Notorious "noisemakers" include Wayne Sayles, Peter Tompa and this observer, as well as John Hooker.

ACCG: The Ancient Coin Collectors Guild [ http://www.accg.us ]

Glennbeckian: According to the Urban Dictionary, "often large in scale, characterized by John Birch Society paranoia, confusion of historical facts, latent racism, and sprinkled with ideas plagiarized from fringe religious authors, may be frantic and emotional or tearful with little or no rational basis." Refers to political commentator Glenn Beck.

"non-idiot US coin collecting": archaeologically correct numismatists, e.g. Nathan Elkins [ http://coinarchaeology.blogspot.com/ ]

anti-intellectualism: a perspective emphasizing fundamental human values, and the rights of individuals, such as freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the right to own and enjoy private property etc. Mr. Barford's political affiliation is not public knowledge, however his expressed views regarding the intersection between archaeology, antiquities collecting and metal detecting are distinctly left-wing, and perhaps Socialist. He seems to believe that preservation of the "archaeological record" is all-important and ought to trump the fundamental human values listed above. Those who object to concepts such as the "archaeological record," "cultural heritage," "stewardship of the past," and other collective-property oriented idealism being placed above fundamental human values are "anti-intellectual."

"series of imagined oppressions": The controversial actions of the U.S. State Department's Cultural Heritage Center, under the direction of archaeologist Maria Kouroupas, to place ancient coins on Restricted Lists secretively negotiated with foreign governments in contravention of the legislative intent of the CCPIA which implemented the 1970 UNESCO Convention. There is nothing "imagined" about these oppressive bureaucratic actions, which significantly restrict importation of ancient coins into the USA and are causing serious problems for US collectors of ancient coins.

IAPN: International Association of Professional Numismatists

PNG: Professional Numismatists Guild


The blog post by Wayne Sayles which provoked Barford's remarks can be viewed here:

Like all of Sayles' writing, it is well worth reading. It needs to be understood in the context of the ideological conflict between individualism and statism. Sayles' point is that the difference between one radical ideology and another, on the surface, may seem to be immense, but when the methods each is prepared to go to in order to advance their cause are considered, they may still have much in common.

The Islamic State cuts off the heads of hostages and publishes videotapes of their barbaric terrorist acts. Seeking to establish a radical Islamic caliphate, they burn libraries and destroy or threaten to destroy ancient monuments, as conflicting with Islam. Islamic fundamentalists believe that such relics conflict with Islamic teachings, and should be destroyed or suppressed. This is nothing new -- the Christian religion had its own episode of religious philistinism in the fourth and fifth centuries.

The AIA relentlessly destroys the careers of those who do not follow the "party line," suppresses publication of information whose pedigree does not conform to its rigid doctrine and forbids members from participating in any sale of "archaeological artifacts." It contends that such relics (and the context in which they lie) belong to archaeology, and that this claim supersedes the right of individuals to acquire and collect these relics. Artifacts should be sequestered in storage under supervision of "qualified stewards" such as archaeologists, and in nationally administered collections.

Sayles' point is that both organizations (each in their own way) believe that they have the right to control the relics of the past and humanity's access to them.


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